Thomas v. South Carolina, The State of
ORDER denying Plaintiff's 18 MOTION for Reconsideration. Signed by Honorable Cameron McGowan Currie on 7/19/2017. (mwal)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-1345-CMC-SVH
The State of South Carolina,
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. ECF No. 18.
The challenged judgment, entered June 27, 2017, was based on the Opinion and Order adopting
the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge dismissing the action without
prejudice. ECF Nos. 15 (Opinion and Order), 16 (Judgment).
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure to allow the court to alter or amend an earlier judgment: “(1) to accommodate an
intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or
(3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Becker v. Westinghouse
Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat’l Fire
Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)). “Rule 59(e) motions may not be used, however, to
raise arguments which could have been raised prior to the issuance of judgment, nor may they be
used to argue a case under a novel theory that the party had the ability to address in the first
instance.” Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403. Relief under Rule 59(e) is “an extraordinary remedy
which should be used sparingly.” Id. (internal marks omitted). “Mere disagreement does not
support a Rule 59(e) motion.” Becker, 305 F.3d at 290 (quoting Hutchinson v. Stanton, 994 F.2d
1076, 1082 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Plaintiff has not met the standard required for amendment of the earlier judgment in this
case. He has not alleged an intervening change in law or new evidence not previously available.
Neither does he allege amendment of the judgment is necessary to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice. Instead, he notes several questions in his amended complaint, which
he argues were not answered by this court’s order. However, the court explained in the order
that federal courts only have jurisdiction over a criminal case originally filed in state court in
very limited circumstances, none of which apply here. See ECF No. 15. Further, there is a
prohibition on federal courts interfering with state court cases and decisions.
Under the Rooker–Feldman doctrine, lower federal courts generally do not have
jurisdiction to review state-court decisions; rather, jurisdiction to review such
decisions lies exclusively with superior state courts and, ultimately, the United
States Supreme Court. The Rooker–Feldman doctrine bars consideration not only
of issues actually presented to and decided by a state court, but also of
constitutional claims that are inextricably intertwined with questions ruled upon
by a state court, as when success on the federal claim depends upon a
determination that the state court wrongly decided the issues before it.
Plyler v. Moore, 129 F.3d 728, 731 (4th Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted). Although the
state court has not yet made a decision on Plaintiff’s case, the federal court does not have
jurisdiction to control the case, as noted in the previous order and above. Plaintiff’s motion for
reconsideration is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Cameron McGowan Currie
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE
Senior United States District Judge
Columbia, South Carolina
July 19, 2017
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